What Is a Power of Attorney?

POSTED ON: November 11, 2021

A power of attorney is an important document. It is, nevertheless, frequently disregarded in estate planning. People usually concentrate their efforts on their wills and trusts, naming a power of attorney at the last minute.

What Is a Power of Attorney?

Any responsible adult can act as your agent. South Florida Reporter’s recent article entitled “Everything You Should Know About Power of Attorney” says this is an important decision that shouldn’t be handled lightly.

A power of attorney or “POA” is a legal document that authorizes a trusted person (the “agent” or “attorney-in-fact”) to make decisions on your behalf (the “donor” or “grantor”).

The authority can be broad, or it can be narrow for only specific actions.

There are two basic types of powers of attorney: one for finances and another for medical decisions.

A financial POA provides your agent with the authority to make financial and property decisions on your behalf. This may include handling your bank or building society accounts, collecting a pension or benefits, paying bills, or selling your house. Once registered, you can use it right away or keep it till you lose your mental capacity.

A medical POA lets your agent make decisions about your medical care and placement in a care facility, including life-sustaining medical care. It should only be used if you’re incapable of making your own decisions, and you must agree to it while you are still capable of doing so.

These specifics of a Power of Attorney may vary, but the following are general guidelines that typically apply:

  • Write it down
  • Determine the parties
  • Delegate the authority
  • Define the term “durability”; and
  • Get the POA notarized.

Appoint a person in your Power of Attorney as your representative who’s both trustworthy and capable.

To learn more about POAs, take a look at these articles:  What Should I Know about Powers of Attorney? and Do You Need a POA If You Have a Joint Account? and Choose Wisely and Protect Yourself When Naming a Power of Attorney

Reference: South Florida Reporter (July 18, 2021) “Everything You Should Know About Power of Attorney”

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